Brentford returned to their home patch after a couple of very promising performances away from home at Leeds and Boro.
As a result, an expectant crowd at Griffin Park were hoping to see a newly invigorated Brentford take all three points from a Preston team struggling to find their feet in the Championship after promotion from League One.
Brentford added yet another player to the injury list – Maxime Colin going down with a knee injury in training – resulting in Josh Clarke making his full debut at right back.
And the kick off whistle had barely blown before Preston had found themselves one goal to the good. Josh Clarke was beaten down the right flank. The cross was whipped in causing all sorts of problems and Daniel Johnson, who was well and truly on the Bees’ radar last season, eventually smashed the loose ball home to put North End one goal to the good on 35 seconds.
Preston now had their tails up and spurning a number of opportunities to increase their lead. David Button kept the Bees in the game with a tremendous save from Joe Garner. At the other end, Brentford did also have a few chances – Preston’s on-loan keeper, Jordan Pickford, pulling off a world-class stop from a Yohann Barbet header to keep the Bees at bay.
The second half saw a marked improvement from the Bees as Preston opted to sit back and defend their lead. Alan Judge and Lasse Vibe caused lots of problems and both came very close to equalizing.
However, it was a masterstroke in changing the game-plan which really turned this match around. Marinus Dijkhuizen brought on young Liverpool academy loanee Sergi Canos for Josh Clarke who, to be fair, after a slow start, was beginning to cause problems for Preston.
The ball was played down the line to Canos – who had already beaten four Preston players a minutes after coming on – took the ball to the goal-line before laying it on for Lasse Vibe who made no mistake in drawing the Bees level.
From there on in, there was only one team in the game. Alan McCormack looked much more assured in his more familiar right-back role and Preston didn’t get a sniff.
Marco Djuracin showed the sort of finish that makes us now realize why Brentford were hard on the case of signing him last January. He deftly flicked the ball over the opposing defender’s head, before surging into the area and shooting past Jordan Pickford at his near post for the winner.
The celebration was almost as good as the goal as he ran over to the fans in the Ealing Rd and went absolutely potty – earning himself a yellow card in the process… as you’ll see in the Beesotted video above.
After the match disappointed Simon Grayson accused his Preston side of “Huffing and puffing and fizzling out”.
Marinus Dijkhuizen singled out Harlee Dean and Alan McCormack for their battling attributes.
“They won every ball. Even in the nine minutes of injury time”.
He also praised the crowd and Sergi Canos…
“The crowd helped us today. Their passion and intensity got through to the players. Sergi bought a lot of quality. I was surprised by his (instant) quality”
Three points in the bag – just what the doctor ordered. Some may argue that, ironically, we played better, overall, against Leeds and Boro and only got one point out of six. However, three points is three points, and there were some good things to come out of that game.
Good to know that the fighting spirit is still in the Brentford team for all to see.
It is obvious that Marinus Dijkhuizen is not afraid to make bold decisions – changing things up to try and get a result.
What is also satisfying is the fact that Brentford also have the ability to break down stubborn teams who come down to Griffin Park and shut up shop.
But, most encouraging, is the fact that we have seen more than enough from the players to realise we potentially have a very good team indeed.
The likes of Barbet, Clarke and, to a certain extent Kerchbaumer, have been given a baptism of fire due to injuries to other players and have coped admirably. The more experience they get, the stronger our bench will be when we have a full squad.
Djuricin is a finisher through and through. His goals against Leeds and Preston were the sign of a true marksman. Yes he should have scored against Boro and another at Leeds – but he’s getting the chances.
Sergi Canos may be young, skilful and enthusiastic. But he is hungry. And he wears his Brentford badge with pride – in the same way Wojciech Szczęsny did when he played for us. Hopefully we will be seeing much more of this young lad over the next few weeks.
Lasse Vibe is an exciting player who knows where the goal is too. As he is starting to develop a real understanding with Djuricin already, one that over the next few weeks we hope becomes even more potent up-front.
Defensively we do know how to fight. Dean, McCormack, Barbet and Bidwell were all digging in deep to ensure that there was now way back for Preston in the second half .
And with a number of key players due back over the next few months, it could be said that each player coming back will seem like a new signing for Brentford.
If Brentford are able to maintain this type of play whilst decimated by injuries, when the likes of Jota, McEachran, MacLeod, Hofmann and Colin come back from, we could be looking at very exciting times ahead.